I recently watched a documentary on Netflix, Cowspiracy, that shocked and disturbed me. In it, multiple experts claim that animal agriculture is the major contributor to climate change. The documentary claims that 51% of greenhouse gas emissions are from animal agriculture (per this report). I was (and still am) skeptical of this figure, so I did a little digging around. The FAO, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, reports that 14.5% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture, beating out the global transportation industry at 13%!
Perhaps more disturbing than the livestock industry’s contribution to greenhouse gases is its disturbance to global ecosystems. Conversion of forest to grassland accounts for 80% of deforestation, especially in Latin America, the home of the world’s largest and most biodiverse forests. Across the globe, ecosystems are destroyed to support the monocultures of animal husbandry and the grains that feed them. Livestock consume 50% of the world’s grain, 75% of the world’s soy and almost half of the U.S.’s corn production goes toward feeding cattle. Animal agriculture also consumes increasing amounts of the Earth’s land, taking up 30% of the Earth’s landmass in 2006! Furthermore, agriculture, especially animal agriculture, is the major contributor to water pollution and ocean dead zones.
Finally, animal agriculture consumes a massive amount of water. In the US, livestock use 56% of our water. Producing 1 kg of animal protein requires about 100 times more water than producing 1 kg of grain protein. That’s insane, especially considering the recent drought in the Western US.
So, in conclusion, I’m going vegan. Let me know what you guys think!”